Former detainee tells of ‘horrific torture’ in Houthi jails

Yemeni activist Gamal Al-Maamri, center, addresses a press conference in Riyadh. (AN photo)
Updated 17 May 2018
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Former detainee tells of ‘horrific torture’ in Houthi jails

  • Al-Maamri said that many prisoners had died because of excessive torture
  • Al-Maamri had earlier arrived in Riyadh after he was released from three years of detention, where he was tortured to paralysis by the rebels

RIYADH: A former detainee on Wednesday told of torture and murder in the jails and camps of the Iranian-backed Houthi militias and called for international human rights organizations to inspect the conditions of thousands of detainees across Yemen. 

Addressing a crowded press conference at the Yemen Embassy in Riyadh on Wednesday, Gamal Al-Maamri, a Yemeni activist released by Houthi militias in a prisoner swap, shared details of his ordeal after he was abducted in March 2015 and taken to the National Security Bureau prison in Sanaa. 

A video showing Al-Maamri’s torture, which sparked anger and condemnation of Houthi brutality, was also shown during the press conference.

Al-Maamri said that many prisoners had died because of excessive torture.

The press conference, which highlighted the torture of Al-Maamri and the killing of prisoners including westerners, and disclosures of the conditions of foreign abductees, was organized by Yemen’s Ministry of Human Rights in cooperation with the Ministry of Information in Riyadh. Yemeni Minister of Human Rights Mohammed Askar, Minister of Information Muammar Al-Iryani, and Deputy Minister of Human Rights Maged Ali Fadail also attended.

Al-Maamri had earlier arrived in Riyadh after he was released from three years of detention, where he was tortured to paralysis by the rebels. They concocted charges against him, accusing him of being an informer for Iranian targets, working against Houthi interest and spying for the Yemeni government.

Al-Maamri, a tribal chieftain, said that he was captured by the Houthis on March 13, 2015, from his hotel room in Saana.  “Then I was taken to a house and upon arriving dragged mercilessly on the stairs of the house and assaulted with all objects including rifle butts until I lost consciousness,” he said. “As I gained consciousness, they started beating me again and kept torturing me for eight straight days.”

Al-Maamri, who is receiving treatment in Saudi Arabia, said: “I was subjected to various types of systematic torture, until I was totally paralyzed with even my private parts badly damaged.” 

“The Houthis’ torture damaged the nerves of my left upper and lower limbs, which paralyzed the left side of my body,” he said. 

“On the top of that, they kept torturing all detainees including me,” said Al-Maamri. “I received successive blows to the back of my head and spine, and because of the beating, it led to coma and paralysis of my limbs.”

“I was having regular period of coma for about five months on a daily basis, lasting for five to six hours, as a result of torture.” A large number of prisoners had undergone systematic torture and death at the hands of the Houthi militants, he said. 

Al-Maamri called on the international community, especially the UN, the UN Security Council and human rights organizations, to inspect the status of thousands of detainees held in the rebels’ jails. He said that “one of the methods of torture is that the deprive you of sleep.”

The Yemeni government has reaffirmed that the case of those abducted by Houthi militias tops its list of priorities for consultations with UN agencies.


FaceOf: Ahmad Al-Khatib, chairman of the board of directors of the Saudi Arabian Military Industries

Ahmad Al-Khatib
Updated 27 May 2018
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FaceOf: Ahmad Al-Khatib, chairman of the board of directors of the Saudi Arabian Military Industries

  • Saudi Arabian Military Industries aims to aims to reduce the country’s reliance on foreign purchases of military products

JEDDAH: Ahmad Al-Khatib was appointed the chairman of the board of directors of the Saudi Arabian Military Industries (SAMI) in October 2017. 

He also holds the posts of chairman of the board of directors of the General Entertainment Authority (GEA) since 2016; chairman of the board of directors of the Saudi Fund for Development; adviser to the general secretariat of the Cabinet; adviser to the minister of defense; and adviser to the court of the crown prince.

Al-Khatib inaugurated on Friday the new facilities of the Aircraft Accessories and Components Company (AACC) at its new headquarters at King Abdul Aziz International Airport in Jeddah during a ceremony under the patronage of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

SAMI aims to reduce the country’s reliance on foreign purchases of military products and become one of the top 25 global companies in the field of military industries.

“Our goal is to localize more than 50 percent of the Kingdom’s military spending by 2030,” said the crown prince in his earlier statement.

Al-Khatib is a former adviser to the royal court, was the minister of health between 2014 and 2016, and served as the chairman for the Saudi stock company established in 2006, Jadwa Investment.

Al-Khatib has 23 years of experience in banking. In 1992 he joined the Bank of Riyad, working in various departments for 11 years and helping to establish the customer investment department. 

In 2003, Al-Khatib joined SABB Bank and participated in the establishment of Islamic Banking (Amanah). He then became the bank’s general manager.